From Quit India to quiet haven

Aug 10, 2012, 11:50 IST | The Guide Team

On the 70th anniversary of the Quit India movement, which started on August 8, The Guide revisits the August Kranti Maidan, a landmark from India's freedom struggle that is a stark contrast today

For most of the city, the Quit India Movement that set the wheels turning for the final agitation against the British rule in India seems to be a forgotten chapter. As one revisited the August Kranti Maidan, the historic spot which witnessed the 1942 revolution didn’t seem to exude any recollection of its
heroic past.

It was on August 8, 1942, 70 years ago, when Mahatma Gandhi called upon India to rise in protest against the British, and with his speech began one of the biggest civil disobedience movements in the history of the world. Gandhi delivered his speech at Gowalia Tank (the open space where cattle were washed by herdsmen in the past; hence the name) that became August Kranti Maidan after this historic event.

The memorial stambh at the maidan

These days, one section of the Maidan is used for political gatherings and as a playground while the rest of the divisions of the ground have been converted into parks for kids and senior citizens. The ground is a stone’s throw away from Laburnum Road, which houses Mani Bhavan, a building that served as Gandhiji’s headquarters till 1934.

The maidan has been maintained and several buildings that date back to as early as 1920 surround it. A keen eye would notice broken stained glass windows behind a restaurant’s board and a 90-year-old crest, which is almost hidden by a ghastly board advertising bath essentials. At the junction outside the ground, one will spot an imposing marble statue of Parsi visionary Nusserwanji Maneckji Petit.

Seventy years back, the ground would have been milling with people looking towards a new change but today, when we visited the ground a day before the anniversary and quizzed the solitary guard at the ground, all we got was, “Anna Hazare comes here, also, several big mantris. The Congress Party has been doing something here.”

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